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Traditional hunting vs modern hunting

Updated on January 6, 2011
The hunter
The hunter

Hunting is one of the original survival skills. Traditional hunting fed and clothed the human race for tens of thousands of years. Hunting is also responsible for the existence of a lot of technology, everything from cutting tools to fire.

Hunting theory- What to hunt, and why to hunt it

That said, modern hunting is largely responsible for the various environmental imbalances on Earth. Kill the predators, and the vermin take over. The emphasis on hunting big animals has also been way out of proportion. Big animals are the result of a healthy ecosystem, and they’re part of that system. Kill them in large numbers, and you damage the ecology, usually severely.

Hunting was usually done on a needs basis, traditionally. Ancient hunters didn’t destroy their food stocks. Quite the opposite, they took only what they needed, and learned how to use everything from their hunt animals.

The ethics of hunting

Historically, hunting was always a matter of risk vs. reward. Traditional hunters never took it for granted that they’d succeed. The choice was success or starvation, with some added interest in the possibility of being killed by the prey.

There’s a huge difference between traditional hunting and modern hunting. It’s hard to say that a bullet-riddled large animal was actually “hunted”, so much as “mown down”. There are no real risks to the hunters except accidents. The hunter arrives in an SUV, and is led to an area full of targets.

Survivalism, it isn’t. That’s hunting? It looks more like commuting. How could you miss an animal the size of a stag, bear or an elephant? How much skill and courage is required? The fact is that no animal is any kind of match for an armed human, even with a basic hand weapon, most of the time.

Hunting in traditional times was a matter of courage. Try facing down a bear with a wooden spear, and you’ll get an idea of how much courage. The ancient hunters took risks, and learned how to hunt efficiently.

Tiger hunting was once a “sport”. Thousands of them were massacred by people in no danger of much more than sunburn. No courage or skill required, just point the gun and pull the trigger. It had all the spontaneity of a fox hunt, and all the fairness.

There was one exception. A hunter on the back of an elephant was ambushed by the tiger they were after in long grass. The tiger attacked the elephant, and elephant, mahout, and hunter were a bit the worse for wear afterwards, but that was the exception.

So who was doing the real hunting, the ancients or the modern hunters? I won’t kill an animal except in self defence or real need. I don’t see any honor, skill, courage, manhood or even dignity in simply shooting an animal.

In German legend, a hunter on horseback with a cavalry lance was hunting wild boar. The hunter got the boar with the lance, and discovered to his horror that the wounded boar, impaled on the lance, was climbing up the lance to attack him, with the lance sticking clear through it.

You see what I mean. This just doesn’t look like hunting any more. Maybe the world has gone too soft. The old hunters were respected for their bravery and skills, not simply their ability to kill animals. They had to survive their hunts, not just survive their own mistakes.

The character that made humans so adaptable and so adventurous is now looking like just a combination of firepower and ego. The modern hunters might as well be shooting bunny rabbits with quad 50 cals, for all the actual hunting involved.

Bring back the traditional hunting methods. No guns, just traditional hunting weapons. No SUVs, no horses, no other luxuries, just what you can carry for supplies. Let’s see who’s the better hunter then.


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    • Paul Wallis profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Wallis 

      5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks, sorry for incredibly slow response, only just got notified, for some reason.

    • Tom Schumacher profile image

      Tom Schumacher 

      5 years ago from Huntington Beach, CA

      Interesting hub. I agree with your disposition that modern hunting has and continues to cause problems to the Earth's ecology. Voted up for informative.

    • Paul Wallis profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Wallis 

      7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Yeah, the issue is really the slash and burn redneck vs. the real hunter, which is an image people often don't quite know how to interpret. Hence my preferred slogan- "Save the planet- Plant a redneck".

    • johnny2 profile image


      7 years ago from Dover, Arkansas

      Yes, hunting is different now but I think you're painting all modern hunters with a pretty broad stroke here. Not all modern hunters choose the easiest path.

      Yes, hunting has affected the dynamics of some animal populations but hunting and hunters have brought many species back from the brink of extinction; whitetail deer and wild turkey are two examples in the U.S.

    • Paul Wallis profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Wallis 

      8 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks, as you can see some feeling went into this one.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Great hub and timely. You really hit the nail on the head.


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